The Prime Minister of Peru has claimed that remarks appearing to praise Hitler were misunderstood and has offered to apologise in person to the Israeli ambassador.
Anibal Torres reportedly praised the Nazi leader for turning Germany into the “first economic power in the world”, a comment met with protest by both the Israeli and German embassies.
The 79-year-old Prime Minister made the remark in Huancayo, an Andean town at the centre of ongoing protests over the economic situation in the country. Mr Torres praised Hitler’s and Mussolini’s infrastructure policies, saying: “On one occasion Hitler visited the north of Italy, and Mussolini shows him a highway built from Milan to Brescia, Hitler saw this and went to his country and filled it with highways, airports and turned Germany into the first economic power in the world. We have to make an effort, make sacrifices to improve our roads.”
The Israeli Embassy said that “Regimes of death and terror cannot be a sign of progress,” adding: “Hitler was responsible for the death of six million Jews, to praise him is an offense to the victims of that world tragedy.”
The German embassy said: “Adolf Hitler was a fascist and genocidal dictator, in whose name the worst war of all time was carried out from Germany and the genocide of six million Jews was committed. Against this backdrop, Hitler is not the right reference as an example of any kind.”
A Peruvian legislator who had lived in Germany for two decades demanded that Mr Torres apologise to the German people, while Peru’s Jewish Association observed that this was not the first time that politicians in the country had comments of this sort, insisting that “the seriousness of these expressions do not merit explanations or half apologies.